Washington and Oregon Preliminary Notices
A preliminary notice in Washington and Oregon has many names: Notice of Intent, Notice of Right to Lien, and Notice of Right to Claim Lien among them. They all achieve the same goal: to notify the owner or general contractor of a construction project that a contractor, subcontractor, materials provider, or other party is reserving their right to file a mechanic’s lien in the event of non-payment. A preliminary notice itself is not a mechanic’s lien. Instead, it is documentation to remind property owners that you reserve the right to file a lien, should the need arise.
A good way to think of preliminary notice is in the context of insurance for the construction industry. Should something go wrong and your payment is either late or being disputed, a preliminary notice protects your ability to file a mechanic’s lien. In fact, many states — including Washington and Oregon — actually require preliminary notice to be sent in order to file a lien. To learn more about what is required to file a lien, refer to our Washington and Oregon “how-to file a mechanic’s lien” blog posts. It’s why our most successful clients make notices part of their everyday routine prior to performing work on new projects. With that in mind, it’s no surprise these clients are also the ones who rarely have to file a lien.
Unless you’ve been very lucky as a tradesperson or contractor, you’ve probably dealt with trying to get paid. The unfortunate fact is that there are project owners out there that are slow to pay — or don’t pay at all.
To protect contractors and other craftspeople, every state offers legal recourse through a mechanic’s lien. To take advantage of this protection, though, there are a series of steps you’ll need to follow. One common and critically important element in Washington and Oregon is providing what’s called a preliminary notice.
In addition to protecting your lien rights, notices ensure you are first in line to get paid following work performed. Accounting teams often batch invoices in two categories: those who sent notices and those who didn’t. Those who sent preliminary notice typically get paid first, while those who didn’t are paid last. They are an effective and inexpensive payment tool that should be part of your billing team’s everyday toolkit.
Now that you know the importance of notices, let’s take a look at some key dates and deadlines to be aware of:
In Washington, a preliminary notice is required within 60 days of first delivering materials or performing labor on commercial jobs — or 10 days for residential jobs.
Our industry is unique in many ways, but one of the most important is our unique ability to protect ourselves with liens. Sending preliminary notice once a new project commences is one of the best opportunities to ensure you collect the payables you’ve earned.
The customer isn’t always right in construction and contracting. Customer-provided job descriptions are often inaccurate or incomplete; have someone with complete knowledge of the project confirm and verify the job information before proceeding.
If you’re doing work in several states, don’t assume that all notices are the same. Each state has a different set of deadlines to abide by — and failure to abide by said deadlines can result in a null-and-void notice. Keep in mind there are different types of notices, including a Notice to Owner or Model Disclosure Statement, which is commonly confused with a Notice of Intent.
Liens are a complicated business — and a significant annual expensive if you’re filing notices and liens on a regular basis. Get expert help and considerable discounts on file fees by signing up for Northwest Lien services.
Erin Schmidtke, Corporate Secretary at Capital Heating and Cooling
Thank you Northwest Lien Services for many years of great service. It brings a peace of mind knowing that the professionals at Northwest Lien Services are there to help us protect our business. Ken and other staff members have been very supportive and informative over the years. Capital Heating and Cooling looks forward to many more years of great service from Northwest Lien.
Joyce Hibma, Controller at Bulldog Demolition & GC Inc
As a customer of Northwest Lien Service for 18 plus years, Ken and his staff continue to provide for us Peace of Mind that our Notice to Customers/Intents are filed accurately and in a timely manner. Ken’s knowledge and support has saved us from losing thousands of dollars throughout the years when dealing with customers who are negligent in paying for services provided. It has been a pleasure watching Northwest Lien service grow, all the while continuing to provide a friendly and hands-on service. I have and will continue to use and recommend their services.
Maria Sanchez, Credit Manager A/R at Atlas Supply
I have been using Northwest Lien services for over twelve years. Their staff is professional and knowledgeable. Profitability is a critical priority for Contractors and Suppliers. As a result, close attention is paid to operational costs. Northwest Lien Services helps Contractors and Suppliers control costs, adopt consistent, lean operational processes, reduce the time spent cutting checks for UCC filings, and optimize fee structure. We thank Northwest Lien for their reliable support and we are looking forward to more years of successful results.
Why Work with Northwest Lien?
At Northwest Lien, you get just what our name suggests – a local company that specializes in knowing the construction lien laws right here in the great northwest. That means you can have peace of mind knowing your documents are being prepared correctly and efficiently every time, giving you the ability to get paid fast.
Northwest Lien has been in business for over 20 years and during that time developed long-standing relationships with some of the foremost construction companies in the northwest. We pride ourselves on not only making sure each document is prepared properly, but also providing the highest level of customer service in the lien industry. We simply love what we do.